Treat yourself to some Limoges
"When you say it's Limoges, everyone in France understands that it’s all about porcelain! the most beautiful of which any table in the world can be proud "(Courrier du Centre, May 20, 1929).
Why did porcelain settle in Limoges? This question, asked by most visitors to Limoges, leads to a few details.
The eighteenth century was the century of porcelain par excellence. The taste for this matter spread throughout all the princely courts of Europe thanks to the commerce developed by the various shipping companies which then linked Europe with the Far East. To compete with the white and translucent ceramic from China, it was necessary to use a particular clay, kaolin known and used by the Chinese since the beginning of the Christian era. In Europe it was the Germans who had the chance to be the first to find in 1709 this precious material, so precious that some do not hesitate to call it "white gold". Prince Auguste le Fort, Grand Elector of Saxony, conceived a real passion for it, bringing with him many other princes who incited the creation of porcelain manufactures in their countries.
France did not stay away from this craze. In the absence of deposits, it developed, after Italy, porcelain without kaolin. This one, less white and more fragile, was called soft porcelain. In the eighteenth century it became the French porcelain par excellence, remarkable specialty of the famous royal manufacture of Sèvres. This highly admired production did not prevent us from wanting to find kaolin in France too. That is why each provincial Intendant had received samples to participate in this research. The discovery made in 1768 in Saint-Yrieux-la-Perche, about thirty kilometers south of Limoges, was not just the result of chance.
It was also the result of sometimes equivocal relations between a cultivated Bordeaux apothecary, and author of a number of previous discoveries, Marc Antoine Villaris, and doctor Darnet, living in the village of Saint-Yrieux. The apothecary immediately realized that the fine, white clay found on these lands, which legend has claimed to be used for washing, was kaolin. To manufacture a porcelain similar to that from the East, it was necessary - as it is still today - to mix kaolin with two other indispensable materials: quartz and feldspar, which were also found in this granite region. In addition to these indispensable materials, the basement of the Limousin region also contained metals whose oxides make it possible to obtain colors for ceramics, for example gold, copper, iron, manganese, etc.
Although the Sèvres factory was the first to produce kaolinic porcelain, or hard porcelain, Limoges quickly followed after a few men joined forces to found a porcelain factory in Limoges.
In the eighteenth century porcelain was a rare, expensive and therefore destined for a real boom in the nineteenth century, when it was introduced on the bourgeois tables ...
By Chantal Meslin-Perrier « La Porcelaine de Limoges »
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